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Feel The Warmth

I’ve lived most of my life as a Michigander.  I love how the seasons change the landscape in front of my writing area.  Today the stillness of winter has struck just the right cord within me.  I feel the warmth of the wood-burner,and the sounds of Val getting our morning coffee.  I watch the birds at our feeders, their small feathered body’s puffed out against the cold.  In that stillness, resides a sense of gratitude and the accumulative effect is one of peace.  This inner peace is much needed as we head into the next phase of my physical journey.  I have been referred to a hematologist for a bone marrow biopsy and thorough blood workup.  A suspected blood disorder is looming large.  Again, we learn patience and perseverance.

Val built our home on 52 consecutive Sundays; you can feel the love seeping through the structure.  This is our house of God.  It is a home that has seen much history and celebration.  Today our neighbor Lynne, my older brother Bill and his girlfriend Deb are coming for dinner.  There are few things I enjoy more than filling our home with the scents of cooking and the anticipation of sharing that meal with those I love.  Good food is often like that, an invisible bridge connecting us to each other.  An expression of goodwill that transcends the simplicity of the moment into something larger, more intimate and we bask in its warmth.

Today’s meal will be a wonderful Brazilian fish stew called:  Moqueca De Peixe.  With aromatic garlic, onions, cilantro and red bell pepper, it has just the right amount of heat, which is tempered with the addition of coconut milk.  Loaded with tomato, fish and shrimp, it is a big bowl of warmth.  It invites you to eat the shrimp floating in the broth with your fingers.  I smile when I see Bill’s eyes closed with enjoyment.  This is why I cook.


Sauteing aromatics

Sauteing aromatics


BRAZILIAN FISH STEW:

  1. 1/2 cup fresh lime juice

  2. 1 tsp Kosher salt

  3. 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

  4. 3 garlic cloves, minced

  5. 2 lbs firm white fish, cut in 1 inch pieces (I use cod)

  6. 2 lbs wild caught fresh or flash frozen shrimp (21-24 count)

  7. 2 Tbsp ghee or olive oil

  8. 2 cups yellow onion, chopped

  9. 3 cups red bell pepper, seeded and chopped

  10. 1 cup green onions, sliced thinly

  11. 6 garlic cloves, minced

  12. 2 bay leaves

  13. 2 14.5 oz cans Muir Glenn Fire-Roasted chopped tomatoes, with juice

  14. 1 can tomato paste

  15. 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, plus more for garnishing soup, chopped

  16. 2 cups clam juice or fish stock

  17. 1 cup home-made chicken stock (or if you’re using a commercial product, make sure it’s stock not broth)

  18. 1 14 oz can full-fat coconut milk

  19. 1/2 to 1 tsp red pepper flakes

  20. 1 whole lime, cut into wedges

Instructions:

  1. Combine the first 6 ingredients in a large bowl and set aside.  Add the ghee or olive oil to a large soup pot over medium-high heat, add onion and saute until soft, stirring occasionally.

  2. Add the red bell pepper, green onion, garlic and bay leaves. Saute for 10 more minutes or until vegetables are softened.  Add tomatoes and tomato paste, combine well and cook for another 5 minutes.

  3. Add the chicken and fish stock or clam juice, along with the cilantro and simmer until hot but not boiling, about 10-15 more minutes.

  4. Finally, add the coconut milk, fish and shrimp, including their marinade.  Cook until shrimp looses its opaqueness, about 3 minutes.  DO NOT OVERCOOK!

  5. Ladle into bowls and garnish liberally with additional cilantro.  Pass the lime wedges.

  6. Kiss the cook.

Serves 4-6


Just the right amount of heat

Just the right amount of heat


“Worries go down better with soup.”  –Jewish proverb

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